Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Patriotic Holidays Unit Study sale ends May 31st - includes Flag Day, June 14th!

Just a reminder that the four-holiday set of Patriotic Holiday Unit 
Studies CDROM sale ends tomorrow, May 31st. This CDROM also contains
the free bonus - Patriotic Holidays Notebooking Pages - all for $10.95.

Here's the link:

Flag Day is included in this set, and it is almost here - Flag Day is
June 14th!

Amanda B.

Sale ending on Memorial Day Unit Study!

Hello all! After tomorrow, May 31st, the downloadable Memorial Day Unit 
Study sale ends - here's the link:

Amanda B.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Amanda's Tips for Successful Homeschooling

One of the questions that I am asked most frequently is "You've already got two children through college after being homeschooled - how did you do it so successfully?" This question always makes me smile - consider what each of these individuals consider to be the definition of "successful homeschooling." Think about it for a minute - what do YOU consider to be a "successful" homeschooler?

There is a simple verse that explains our goal in successfully educating our children:

Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Notice that this includes no references to training them to be lawyers or doctors or veterinarians or athletes. :-) We do comply with the educational requirements for the state, but our emphasis is on helping them learn to lead godly lives and use their unique God-given gifts to follow His will. He is making their paths clear, and we are there to support and encourage them in these efforts.

Along the way, I have learned a few important things that have made homeschooling easier as we went along. In the weeks to come, I will be sharing some of these tips with you, with the hope that they might make your load easier - learn from my hard-headed lessons!

1.    Accept the fact that your family is unique and different. Understand that your success and your homeschooling will look different from everyone else in the world! Your success will be different, and your children are uniquely different. What others in your homeschool co-op group do with their children is not necessarily going to be a success with your children. Make your OWN definition of success.

2.    Things are much easier when you realize that there is no formula. Homeschooling and family life are much easier when you see that there is no formula to follow. Scary but true, as we learned in engineering school, homeschooling is an unsolvable equation - there are too many variables - too many unknowns! Chicken pox this week, garden planting next week - we are a constantly changing work in progress. This is true about parenting, too - there is no "easy" button or formula to follow. Get busy living and learning and quit stressing about copying what others do - find your family's own style and stay flexible. 

3.    Protect your time and your family's time with a passion - every day is a precious gift. I love the line from the Chris Rice song, Life Means So Much, "Teach us to count the days, teach us to make the days count... Life means so much..." Some things to try -- turn off or minimize all intrusions and any distractions that you can (telephones, cell phones, nosy neighbors, television and neighborhood kids pounding on the door). Learn to say NO when you would have to sacrifice "protected time" - family time, date night, etc.

Enough from me for now - more of the top ten tips to follow soon.  I hope that you and your family have a meaningful Memorial Day - and thanks for joining me on this thrilling ride called homeschooling!

Blessings to you and yours,

Amanda B.


Patriotic Holidays Unit Study Sale ends soon!

Patriotic Holidays Unit Study - Special Price through May 31, 2007

Memorial Day is almost here, with Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day just around the corner. Enjoy learning about the history of our country and the true meaning of each of these special days.

Four one-week unit studies of each of these holidays, and the Patriotic Holidays Notebook Pages are included
as a bonus on the CDROM -
now only $10.95 through May 31, 2007

Top Picks for Summertime Fun

Plan for Summertime Fun

Christy: The Complete Series, DVD Set
By Fox Faith
Now the television series based on Catherine Marshall's award-winning novel comes in one affordable boxed set! Christy: The Complete Series features 19 episodes about Christy Huddleston's life as a schoolteacher in the impoverished Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Determined to make a difference, 19-year-old Christy left the comfort of her home to help the children. Christy is home entertainment at its best, these wholesome programs star Kellie Martin, Tyne Daly, LeVar Burton, and many special guest performers. Four double-sided DVDs. Approx. 15 hours total.

American Spirit Jigsaw Puzzle
A favorite pastime at our house year round - jigsaw puzzles! This is a beautiful 500 piece puzzle of the American flag - just in time for all of the upcoming patriotic holidays.

Eagle's Flight Jigsaw Puzzle (1000 pieces)
Your family and friends can all work together to assemble this beautiful 1000 piece full-color puzzle, featuring a majestic eagle against a patriotic backdrop. Measures 20" x 27" when completed.

The Andy Griffith Show: 16 Hilarious Episodes, 2 DVDs
Welcome back to Mayberry! Pull yourself up a rocking chair and get ready to enjoy a visit back in time to America's favorite hometown of Mayberry, NC. Join Andy and all of his friends and family for down-home, wholesome humor. These DVDs are loaded with bonus material, including cool old commercials and vintage cartoons like Betty Boop, Tom and Jerry, Mighty Mouse, and Popeye!

Andy Griffith (8 Episodes on DVD)
Remember when Barney spent his life savings on a used car, and it turned out to be lemon? Laugh your way through classic TV moments like these in this collection that includes "Barney's First Car," "Andy Discovers America," "Aunt Bee's Medicine Man," "Andy's English Valet," and "The Great Filling Station Robbery." Eight episodes split onto 2 DVDS; approx. 3 hours, 20 minutes total.

Mickey, A Baseball Movie
When widowed attorney Tripp Spence (Harry Connick Jr.) finds himself wanted by the IRS, he and his young pitching sensation son Derrick (Shawn Salinas) assume new identities and flee to Las Vegas. Here, Derrick becomes "Mickey" and Tripp enrolls him in a second final year of Little League. But as the nation, the government and a nervous Tripp watch, "Mickey" leads his team from the city championship all the way to the controversial final game of the Little League World Series. Can a 13-year-old fugitive with an 80 mph fastball now find a way to stay anonymous - and honest - as the most famous 12-year-old athlete in the world? Screenplay by John Grisham. Rated PG. Approx. 104 minutes.

Anne of Green Gables, DVD
Megan Follows, Tony Award winner Colleen Dewhurst  and Academy Award nominee Richard Farnsworth give unparalleled performances in this critically acclaimed motion picture, based on the international best-selling novel. Filmed amidst the spectacular scenery of Prince Edward Island, Canada, this award-winning movie follows the enchanting life of orphan Anne Shirley, from her struggles as an adolescent to her triumphs as a young woman. A delicate epic full of wit, style and emotional power. Digitally restored. Approx. 195 minutes.

Memorial Day Unit Study - downloadable!


Memorial Day, a day when we take time to remember all of the people that have given their lives for American freedom. They gave up promising futures, families, hopes, and dreams — for all of us. Let us use this day as an opportunity to honor them, remember them, and learn more about their sacrifices. This is a one-week unit study that offers daily lessons focusing on Memorial Day.

Looking back on my childhood days, I recall that Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day. This was a day when families would gather, clean the cemetery plots of family members, plant flowers, and place small flags on the graves of those family members that had died defending America. People would “decorate” their graves, to honor their memory. This was also a time for a family picnic and a parade in town. It was a family time — a treasured time.

When we saw flags waving in the breeze all over the neighborhood, we were proud to be Americans. I would like for American children to experience this same pride and appreciate what it has taken to keep that flag flying. As time has gone by, these traditions have often been left behind and forgotten. Now, if you ask many children what Memorial Day is about, they remark, “The day the pool opens!” or “The beginning of summer!”

It is high time that we reclaim the memorial — the remembrance of those who fought so proudly so that we can be free to enjoy our precious God-given liberties. With that in mind, let’s work on bringing the focus back to the intent of this holiday. We can do this in a way that will open the children’s eyes to the liberties that they enjoy and show them that these liberties have been protected at all costs. We will briefly learn about the history of the holiday, some of the wars that Americans have fought in, and ways that we can honor the great people who lost their lives defending our lives and liberty.


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Patriotic Holidays on SALE just in time for Memorial Day

Just a quick note to let you know that the Patriotic Holidays Unit Studies CDROM is on sale for only $10.95 through the end of May - just in time to learn about Memorial Day at the end of May and get ready to learn about and celebrate Flag Day in June.

Here's the link:

Amanda B.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Summertime Fun

Ah, the sights and sounds of crickets chirping, slamming screen doors, bare feet running through the house, and the squeals of laughter as the children play in the sprinklers  - reminding us of this season of fun and outdoor play as we homeschool. For many families, the summertime is used for a rest for mom, and a time to let the kids unwind, attend Vacation Bible School, and perhaps go on vacation. Over the years, I have found some valuable benefits by casually keeping the learning process going through the summer. Summertime learning can help keep their thinking skills honed, reading interests and ability don t go through the throttle up and down that is typical in a structured school calendar, and it helps direct their activities in more beneficial areas of fun AND learning.

First, understand that these suggestions are shared with the intention of lightening your load and enriching your family’s summertime learning - - NOT to give you more burdens. Take these ideas and custom fit them to your family's schedule for the summer. You will find that the "I'm bored, Mom!" isn' t heard quite as often, and trips to the library are more interesting than ever. With these things in mind, here are some ideas to get you started.

Reading can be a custom-made hobby for homeschoolers to enjoy more than ever in the summertime. The child can read more using those times when it is too hot to play outside, too rainy, or while traveling in the car.

While some children look forward to reading, others drag their feet about it, requiring more motivation to get started. At our house, we have had both kinds of readers. Consider having them participate in a summer reading contest at the local library. If your library does not offer this type of program, how about designing your own family or neighborhood reading contest? Keep the prizes affordable and fun, something that everyone will enjoy. A few ideas include:

*   Pennies per page for the younger readers, along with weekly trips to the store so that the awarded pennies can be spent.

*   Make up some coupons on the computer or with construction paper, and reward the reader with a coupon for each book completed. At the end of the contest, the coupons can be traded in for some fun treats rides at the amusement park, nights at the pizza parlor, a day at the water park, etc

*   You might also consider having a reward system using items that your child already collects: baseball cards, Matchbox cars, doll clothes, etc.

Reading can be enjoyed as a family during the summer, too. What about all that time spent driving on vacation? I've heard of several families that use this time to read aloud to each other, making the miles go by while keeping the interest level high. Depending on the family member's interests and ages, consider some of the classics like Swiss Family Robinson, Anne of Greene Gables, David Copperfield , etc. The book by Jim Trelease, The Read Aloud Handbook has a wonderful list of books to share during family read-aloud times. For those of you with readers that get car sick while traveling, consider getting some books on tape or CD at the local library for your journeys. Also, one of our favorite traveling stops is at the many Cracker Barrel restaurants along the interstate. These restaurants offer a books-on-tape rental program and you can return the tapes at any Cracker Barrel along the way.

Now, how about math skills? You say that your child forgets everything he/she learns about math over the summer? Then summertime can be a great time to keep the skills honed while having fun. If you are planning a special vacation or trip, consider having your child or children plan the vacation, under your supervision, of course. After you explain the places that you would like to visit and the total amount of money that you can afford to spend, have them get busy planning the project. They can divide the budgeted amount up by day or by event. They will have to map out the route to take, calculate the mileage, estimate gas expenses, hotels, food, etc. Then they can develop a fairly complete vacation budget, and keep track of actual expenses versus planned expenses–what a valuable lesson!

For the older children, how about letting them plan the budget for the summer? Have them budget for all of the household expenses water, electricity, mortgage, food, gas, etc. Then, they can help write the checks and balance the budget as the summer progresses Perhaps they can earn a percentage of any budget savings they identify, too! Not only will they learn about the difficulties involved in managing family expenses, but they will also discover the importance of saving and planning ahead for the unexpected. If they are too young to manage the entire family budget, perhaps they can manage just the family food budget – smaller amount with plenty of interesting variables like food sales, coupons, and so much more.

For those of you with sports fans in the household, the mathematics of statistics can be explored through the baseball season of summer. The children can track the stats of their favorite teams and team members, posting them in the kitchen and getting the whole family involved in cheering on the team. If the children are involved in sports themselves, they can learn to calculate and track their own statistics. Terms like average and total and other math terms can be understood in a real way.

The time-honored summertime effort of working to save for a special item should not be overlooked, either. The child can plan to work to earn set amounts of money, saving and calculating how much more he/she will have to do to be able to buy that special bicycle, computer software, or whatever they've set for their goal. They can mow lawns, babysit, clean houses, etc. to earn money. They can watch the sales, determining the lowest price they will have to pay for the item. The lesson of working to earn what you want or need in life can be a lesson in life as well as one in math.

And now, for the most fun area of all to enjoy in the summer – SCIENCE! So many moms are so nervous about teaching science to their children, and summer can provide the perfect opportunity to overcome this fear while launching a child into the fun and excitement of discovering the world and all of it s wonders! A simple project like a small vegetable or flower garden can fill your summer with studies of insects, plant science and cook- what-you- grow. Sometimes you can turn a picky eater into a vegetable enjoyer, and enjoy the summer, as well.

Summertime is also a wonderful time to volunteer to help nature groups counting migrating birds, manatee observation, and much more. The family can volunteer to help out together and you can all learn together. The nature study groups appreciate the help, and your children can learn more about wildlife firsthand. Summertime can also be a time of camping and nature observation. We've had some wonderful experiences camping -- star watching together, observing hawks and mining for rubies. We've also learned about respecting nature poison ivy, ticks, snakes, and more! <smile> From watching meteor showers to sitting quietly and watching a family of hedgehogs, the lessons don't come from a textbook. They come from God above! We've been slowly investing in a whole collection of field guides at garage sales, and these guides stay somewhere between the car and the family room and the creek. Nature provides some of our very best science lessons.

I hope that this article has given you some ideas and motivation for summertime learning and fun. Explore the forces of gravity on a roller coaster ride and watch the effects of sun and rain on a row of sunflowers. Watch the growth of nature this summer, as well as that of your children!

Happy adventuring!

Copyright 2007 by Amanda Bennett